GNB 2.89

April 17, 2023


Look, I come like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake and remains clothed, so as not to go naked and be shamefully exposed.” (Revelation 16.15)


In doing a variety of readings and meditating on the impact of their teaching, I was brought back around to The Book of Revelation. Church history study will inform us that there were at least thirteen (13) books of Revelation considered by the Council of Nicaea for inclusion in the New Testament. Only one survived but not without serious discussion and by a narrow vote. Yet, it is the one that we are given as authentic and authoritative for the life of the disciple and the witness of the Church. With such intense debate, discussion, confrontation and deliberation from its beginning as it was “read,” yes- read as was commanded in the letter itself by Christ, among the communities of faith in Asia Minor, we tend to shy away from it in our personal and corporate study. Too complicated? Too mysterious? Too “out there”? Too difficult to understand? Regardless of the reason, there is vital information for the believer to glean and feed upon for their spiritual life and nurture. I have this strange feeling it is because The Book of Revelation holds all of us “too accountable” for our faith and our lack of faith that many do not like to deep dive into the ocean of work. It sounds too much like “looking in the mirror of truth” and being afraid that “God’s mercy and grace” is insufficient to protect us from the devastation of faithlessness which we still see in ourselves. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. We already know that “nothing can separate us from the love of God.” (Romans 8.39) And that means, especially our sin if we offer it up to God in confession and profession. It is the unrepentant sin that puts our head in the hungry lion’s mouth all the while wondering with Steve Erkle- Did I do that? The answer is “yes” because sin’s intention is to deceive us in believing the truth is a lie and the lie is the truth. Such was the case when Jesus told the disciples “Do not be afraid; have no fear.” He doesn’t mean our confidence will not be tested. He means it will not be shaken down and reduced to the dust from which we came. Nothing would please the Enemy than for that reality to exist. How preachers love to declare “From ashes to ashes and dust to dust” when it comes to interring and memorializing a life that passed ceased to breathe on this side of the grave. Thank God there was no time for preachers when Joseph of Arimetha placed the body of Jesus in the empty tomb. He was doing so just as the sun was setting over the western horizon as an indicator that the Sabbath was beginning. The stone was quickly rolled into place and the deed of burial was done. What did the woman/women find on the “first day of the week” just as the sun was rising on the eastern horizon? The stone was rolled away and the stained burial clothes were folded neatly where Jesus’ feet were placed. The cloth that covered His face was folded neatly as well and placed where His head would have laid. It wasn’t cast off like a dust rag. In fact, the tomb was pristine in its emptiness. No dust had settled or gathered. There was nothing to wipe away. There was no “ashes to ashes and dust to dust.”

But, wait a minute. The grave clothes were intended to cover a naked body. Especially in Jesus’ case, these wrapping would have been like skin for Jesus who was so badly whipped, beaten and attacked that sinew, muscle, organs and bone were exposed. His body was so humiliated that it existed beyond the shame which crucifixion at the hands of the Romans would inflict. Yet, even now, I cannot ignore the words of the Roman centurion who gazed up at Jesus as the last words were uttered, “Father, forgive them, they are so unaware of what they have done. It is finished.” His word for the moment was, “Surely this must have been a man of God.” He did not see shame but peace. He did not see violation but confidence. He did not see death but life. Why? Can we not suggest to ourselves and others that it was because Jesus was clothed with the glory of God in human form being fitted with the whole armor of God? In truth, the grave clothes were not tailor-made. They did not fit the spiritually clothed Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God and humanity. He respectfully accepted them for their moment of declaration. Then, He laid them aside so that the truth may be revealed just as He said, “I am the resurrection and the life; the one who believes in Me shall never die.” How neatly Jesus arranges the details for us to remember so that we are fitted for service as well. Our witness and testimony is not haphazard and clumsy. It fits us like a good suit, fine gloves, crafted shoes and an awesome hat. It is that very fact of “attention to detail” which struck me as I reread The Book of Revelation the other day. In searching for an answer to a certain question, I was met with reminders of other information which aligned with the reflections on Paul’s word recorded in Ephesians 6 concerning “putting on the whole armor of God.” I will offer the following and then let that be the guide for future reflections which we can share together:

To the church in Ephesus: “in spite of your due diligence to uncover false apostles (teachers/prophets), you have forsaken your first love.”

To the church in Smyrna: “I know you are afflicted, poor and slandered even to the point of death, hold fast for I will give you the victor’s crown.”

To the church in Pergamum: “I know your desire is to remain true to My name but you are compromised because of your hunger, repent and receive manna from My hand and I will put a white stone in yours.”

To the church in Thyatira: “I know your deeds of love and faithful service yet you allow a false prophet to teach in your midst with perverse sexuality making you impure. Repent, as she will not, and remain strong and I will give you the ‘morning star’ to rule by day with an iron scepter.”

To the church in Sardis: “You are of a split personality presenting yourselves as alive but in truth you are dead. Repent, wake up, finish the work given to you and I will clothe you with a robe that is white declaring your worthiness.”

To the church in Philadelphia: “I know you are weary and beat down but you continue to hold fast to the faith which is given you. Hold fast to the end because I am making you as pillars in the temple on whom the new name of the Christ shall be inscribed.”

To the church in Laodicea: “You are not to be lukewarm in your faith. I wish that you all would be hot but whatever you choose- hot or cold, do not be lukewarm. Be committed to who you are and I will open the door and welcome you to My banquet table set before My throne.”

Mighty ones of God, I look forward to sharing the details of this message for the whole Church. It is clearly indicating the putting on of the whole armor of God as our witness protection program. Not that we be hidden in plain sight but that which has been hidden will be revealed plainly. Not only will it be revealed and visible but it is a light of truth which the darkness cannot comprehend, overcome nor defeat. This is the Age of the Church and victor belongs to those who dwell in it!


O God, You have clothed us and fitted us to be Your people in the world. From the provision of sheep skins in the Garden to cover our “shame” to the blessing of the Holy Spirit in the Upper Room to declare Your “claim,” we are ready to enter into the world and let Your Will not ours be known. Now, we pray that our eyes may see and ears may hear the understanding of being clothed in mercy and grace with power from on high. May it be so today in Jesus’ name. AMEN.

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